Jim Evans Umpire Academy involved in KKK themed party

13 Feb

Jim Evans was an MLB umpire for 28 years until his contract was not renewed after participating in the umpire walkout of 1999. For the decade prior to that, Evans also owned and operated on a part-time basis, the Jim Evans Umpire Academy which helped produce many of the umpires currently working in the minors and majors. The academy is all Evans has left in many regards that ties him to baseball. What follows is the story of how that last tie was severed.

Eight members of the Evans academy had a bowling night. We can only hope it was a hell’uva set of games because it probably cost them all their livelihood. For reasons beyond all comprehension, they did the unspeakable.

A team consisting of three white men and one Latino man was named, with shirts bearing said name, “Border Patrol.”

A second team called itself “Klein’s Kleaning Krew” – and yes – with the KKK logo of sorts for their team shirt. And this with an African American co-worker present whom did express obvious unease and resigned the following day after lodging a complaint with Evans.

That isn’t the whole story though. Pictures surfaced. So far they seem to have been kept off the Internet or someone did a great job sanitizing any trace of them – but the office of the MLB Commissioner is aware of those photos. Aware enough in fact that after reviewing them and listening to Evans’ explanation of the sordid mess that he decided to sever ties with the academy. From now until whenever Bud Selig feels like it, the Evans academy will cease to train and staff the minors and majors with umpires.

Evans cited the whole bowling “party” as boys being boys. He tried to write it off as people being so close and comfortable with each other that they do certain things they wouldn’t do out in the public eye. The problem is however that they were in the public eye. They were at a bowling alley with other people present who could clearly see what was depicted on those team shirts.

The further point is that these are people that should know better. They are preparing students for high profile jobs in the public eye in which they will be scrutinized to no end. It should be common sense to them that having racially charged slogans and symbols on their team bowling shirts is just plain old stupid. Those points however aren’t what it is really all about though.

What it is about is racism. We can talk around what happened, how it was handled and what explanations were given, but this was disrespect at it’s highest level. How can you claim to be close to a man and then do things to demean and humiliate them publicly because of the color of their skin? In what world is that acceptable behavior? You don’t clown around with symbols from the KKK. it just isn’t done because it is offensive and hateful. You don’t make jokes about anyone of Latino heritage automatically being an illegal on the run from border patrol because it is asinine. People that do those types of things must be the hybrid spawn of pond scum and a festering cankerous lesion off a rabid sloth’s rectum. There is no excuse to legitimize marginalizing human beings for no reason but having a different color skin.

If Evans came out strong against the behavior of his employees, maybe his academy would be worth something still. If he can’t sell the dream of becoming an MLB umpire to prospective students, he has nothing to sell. That he did nothing more than basically laugh everything off as “a bad joke that wasn’t meant to hurt anyone”, he did deserve to lose his agreement with the MLB. How do you innocently joke around about the klan?

Evans feels he is being treated unfairly and that his livelihood has been unfairly taken away from him. That it took losing yet another job, or more accurately one MLB job and one MLB related business, to teach Evans that you don’t screw with the reputation of a multi-billion dollar industry and get away with it will hopefully teach him that racism is not now, has never been and never will be something to joke about or excuse offhandedly. The MLB may not be perfect, but on this issue, in this instance, they were perfectly on target.

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One Response to “Jim Evans Umpire Academy involved in KKK themed party”

  1. Anne Thomas February 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Racism is not now and never will be something to joke about or excuse. Amen.

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